Q: Where are you from and how is the natural scene there?
A: I am from Youngstown, Ohio where it seems the natural scene is barely up and running. Many people here are still very stuck in the european standard of beauty, where the weave rules everything around us.
Q: Did you transition to natural hair? If so, what were your experiences?
A: I transitioned from June 2005 to December 2005. The whole process began when I decided to stop getting relaxers and began wearing straw and roller sets. Finally, I grew tired of trying to manage the three-four inches of wavy new growth and remaining six-seven inches of relaxed hair. In mid-December I called my friend and had her chop all my hair off. She was a little overzealous though and left me with barely an inch and a half covering my scalp. So like it or not, I was natural.
Since then, my hair has grown quite a bit. I’ve learned to be more creative in styling it and more minimal in using product to keep it healthy.
Before the big chop, I had no idea what I was going to look like, so there was quite a bit of risk. Just in case my hair end up being too short, my plan was to throw some micros in and let it grow out to a more presentable length. After it was cut though, I fell in love with it immediately. I hadn’t realized what a great curl pattern I had, seeing as how I hadn’t seen my virgin hair in eight years. I remember I how I just couldn’t keep my hands out of it. As my hair began to grow, I began to look for different ways to style it and experimented with permanent color for the first time. Basically, I grew with my hair and continue to do so today.
Q. Did you have any support?
A: I did not receive much support when I first spoke of wanting to go natural. I had only one friend who told me I should go for it, while the rest tried their best to talk me out of it. After the big chop, it took my mom a few days to get used to my newly cropped head. Some of my family members loved it immediately, others wondered out loud why on earth I would cut all that beautiful hair off my head. My best friend was enthralled and from there, it was mixed reactions from the rest of my inner circle.
Q: What have you experience differently from wearing your natural hair compared to having relaxed hair?
A: One of the first things I noticed after I went natural and started rocking my fro was the level of respect I received from men on the streets. Instead of the usual “what’s up ma?” I now get “how ya doin sistah” or some other more respectful approach. Men are more likely to look me in the eye and evaluate my mind/persona first, as opposed to checking out my assets. Another change I have noticed since going natural is how I view myself. Before, I was so concerned with how I looked in other people’s eyes. I’ve since learned to embrace and love my natural beauty. No longer am I depending on accolades or affirmation from others. I find that I am more confident in myself, along with being more firm in my stance on life and how I live it.
Q: In your opinion, what has been some of the best things about having natural hair?
A: The best thing about being natural, has been the freedom of not conforming to society’s standards of beauty. Whether I rock my twists, a twist out or a fro, I know I look gorgeous, because I am in my own skin completely. No longer do I feel the need to keep up with the latest fashion trends, but rather look forward to setting my own.
Q: What is your weekly hair routine?
A: After discovering MotownGirl, I have begun the “no poo” method, which has worked wonders on my hair. In the shower every morning, I do a light “no poo” wash with a hydrating conditioner and leave some in after rinsing out to act as a humectant throughout the day. After showering, I use about 2 quarter sized amounts of Pantene Hair Milk and a dab of Color Protecting Gloss. In the warmer months, I usually just throw on a headband or scarf and go.
As the seasons are changing, I switch to more protective hairstyles, such as 2 strand and flat twists, as I am still learning how to braid. I don’t wash my hair everyday in the winter, just twice a week.
For formal events such as weddings, I’ve resisted the temptation to straighten and instead learned to work with what I have. On a daily basis, I am falling more and more in love with my hair as I see more and more opportunities and potential in it.
Q: What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going natural?
A: Do a lot of research as you considering going natural. The more resources you find and the more supportive networks you join, the easier your process will be. Initially you may receive quite a bit of negative feedback, even from your loved ones and often from yourself, as you work to change both their and your own pattern of thinking. It is important to balance that feedback with positive input from websites like MotownGirl.com and sistahs who are already natural and in the process. Understand that you are literally freeing yourself from not only a chemical addiction, but a social one as well. It’s going to take time to reach that goal. Be patient with the process. Look forward to embracing yourself, even as you discover new hidden qualities and faults.